Saturday, November 07, 2009

Doing studies


I look at creating a study before a major painting purely as practice and a way of working out colours, values, composition, and background.  Its no different than a pianist practicing a piece before a recital or knitting a swatch before starting a full sweater.

I like working out my palette with a study before I tackle a full piece. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of things if I can work out my mistakes on a small scale before committing them on a large scale.  Its cheaper also, as I'm not wasting materials.

My studies generally don't take more than an hour or two to complete.  They're not finished pieces and never will be, but they provide the template for the painting that will take place next. The study acts as a guide when I do my full piece in terms of colour placement, values, etc. 

I don't do a study for every painting that I create, as I don't want to lose the spontanaiety that comes with starting fresh.  I do use studies when I have an important painting to create or a commissioned portrait that must be correct.

Often beginning artists want to achieve results in the least amount of time so completing a study doesn't appeal to them.  It is a time saving exercise in the long run.  It also relaxes you by letting you work out potential problem areas ahead of time in prepartion for the painting you'll do.  And once, your painting has been sold or delivered, you still have a study for your files.



I'm taking part in a portrait swap on WetCanvas, which has become a bit of a ritual for this time of year.  You add your name and are paired up with another person whose portrait you create and they in turn create one of you.   They can be anywhere in the world which adds to the fun of it.  

This year, I was paired with someone in Newfoundland, the same town more or less.  So we decided that we'd take the opportunity to do some drawing from life and take some photos then work from there.  This morning I sat for him and tomorrow he will come to the farm to sit for me.

We had exchanged photos previously and I did a warm up sketch which then turned into a study in skin tones as I most likely will do a watercolour portrait. Of course, I didn't use watercolour paper for the intial drawing so the water buckled the paper.  That's ok as its only a study.

5 comments:

sue said...

It looks great already, Jeanette! Do you ever feel that the second go-round lacks a certain freshness, though? I always wonder that.

Jeanette said...

Not usually Sue, as I'm doing it on a different surface and a larger size - sometimes a different medium entirely. Those factors create a whole new image.

And being familiar with the face or subject and knowing my palette is a benefit.

Niall young said...

Lovely!..I look forward to seeing what you do for the finished ppiece. I love texture you create in your watercolours...you manage to give the impression that the image is floating in water almost like a reflection..etherial and delicate.

Gary said...

The portrait swap sounds like a great exercise. I have always loved your studies and do agree that they save time with problem solving - I think it makes the actual work much much more spontaneous as you know what you are doing.

Jeanette said...

Thanks Niall. I sometiems think that my technique is too watery - not bold enough. But as a piece develops intensity grows.

The swap is fun Gary and I enjoy creating portraits. Studies take some pressure off I find and you're right, once you have a feel for the piece you tend to relax and it flows more easily.